Sweden: Preparing next generation leaders, entrepreneurs, employees and customers – the importance of academic institutions contributing to an inclusive society

"If they can see it, they can be it!” says Karol Vieker from Stockholm School of Economics. The importance of visual role models is key, she continues, while working to expose important females in the school’s history. 

Stockholm School of Economics is an international business school located in Sweden, offering a first-class, competitive education in business administration and economics at bachelor and master level. Highly regarded MBA, PhD and executive education programmes is part of the offer. It is a school with a reputation, attractive to many more than who actually manage to be accepted. This is of course excluding in itself and is not to be changed. However, the opportunity to apply is open to everyone as long as you fulfil the basic demands. So, reassuring that everyone, independent of background but who has an interest, willingness, ambition and the basics in place, experiences the possibility to apply. Once accepted, the school environment needs to be inclusive and open.

All academic institutions have a great responsibility to create open inclusive environments for their students as well as for their employees. It is a necessity for creative, dynamic and innovative thinking. Furthermore, these institutions should “deliver” people to the labour market who have an inclusive mindset and who will choose to use their positions to promote a diverse work life.

 

Stockholm School of Economics is today highly committed to this matter and their ambition is to develop a more diverse and inclusive culture. The purpose is to sustain their highly regarded education, offer an environment where research at the forefront can take place and also attract new students. In order to really make this ambition come true, Karol Vieke was appointed to Equality and Diversity Manager of the school, a completely new role that did not exist two years ago. In dialogue with the Signatories in Sweden at a seminar, she shared her concrete activities of raising awareness and competence among the employees as well as the students.

Despite a poor match with the inclusive vision of the school, old traditions and well-known ceremonies proved to take time and some hard work to change. Not among employees but among students! It turned out that students were not ready for change when finally having succeeded to join the school. One example is the consistent dialogue with many students and the patience needed to make a new and more inclusive ritual concerning enrolment festivities of fresh students. Finally, it did and with great fun and success. Karol’s work has just begun and many actions are being reviewed, added or transformed. Still, she could in the most inspiring way visualise the importance of the educational system working together with business and society to develop inclusive minds for the future.  

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